COLUMBIA — The Boone County Tornadoes under-16 soccer team defeated the Waynesville Hurricanes 4-0 in the first round-robin match of the Show-Me State Games Saturday at Cosmopolitan Park.
The Tornadoes have athletes from three high schools in Boone County: Rock Bridge, Hickman and Southern Boone. Although coach Ron Schmidt put the team together to prepare them for high school tryouts in about three weeks, they still found success on the field.
"For them to mesh that well, it's just a testament to how unselfish they are," Schmidt said.
The team originated with a core group of Rock Bridge players 11 years ago. Schmidt then added players from Hickman and Southern Boone to complete the 18-man roster.
"It's difficult to get a whole team together in the summer because people are out of town," said Walter Gassmann, the father of Boone County's goalkeeper Jonas Gassmann. "And it's so hot, so you need a lot of subs."
The Tornadoes have played in nine of the past 11 Show-Me State Games, and Schmidt says he can't remember a time when they didn't win their age group at the tournament. But to Schmidt, winning isn't everything.
"This isn't so much about winning," Schmidt said. "I want them to get ready for their high school tryouts."
The Show-Me State Games are not the only summer event the soccer athletes use to train. Jefferson City hosts three tournaments, two with three-player teams and one with seven players on each team. The Missouri Athletic Club also gives players the opportunity to compete in summer indoor soccer leagues.
Schmidt said that the Tornadoes are not affiliated with the players' schools.
"We're not like a farm system for (the high schools) at all," Schmidt said. "We're just keeping the kids active. We don't do a lot of coaching. They're smart players. It's good for their creativity and leadership skills to be out there."
Not only does Schmidt think the tournament helps the Boone County players, but he also sees the Show-Me State Games as an exciting time for Mid-Missouri.
"It's a neat opportunity for Columbia to host it," Schmidt said. "It's also neat for us small towns to pull together a bunch of kids and come out and play."
The Tornadoes will compete in next weekend's under-17 division, but without their coach. Schmidt recently took a job as the boys freshman soccer coach at Rock Bridge. For the first time, the Missouri State High School Activities Association implemented a "high school dead period."
The dead period, which begins next weekend, is one week when high school soccer coaches can have no contact with their players.
"Even though (the Tornadoes) will all be varsity or junior varsity players and none of them will be on the freshman team, I won't be able to coach them because it will be a violation to high school rules," Schmidt said.
Despite the loss, Schmidt's son, Ryan Schmidt, a midfielder for the Tornadoes and a junior at Rock Bridge, did not seem worried after the win.
"I like playing with this team," Ryan Schmidt said. "It's a lot of fun. There's no pressure."